A few weeks ago, before we all settled in for days on end of eating cookies and ignoring the internet for the holidays, Jami and I went to a Bavarian-themed "Kringlemart" set up in downtown Chicago by Daley Plaza. I'm sure you know the type – artisans come into town to set up a Christmas-themed craft fair in peppermint-striped shanties warmed by space heaters and sell everything from hand carved nativity scenes to Bratwurst. We were on the lookout for a Krampus tree ornament but instead found something even more inexplicable: our very own Bootleg Moomin Action Figure!
For those who aren't familiar, the Moomins are a group of Scandinavian children's characters created by cartoonist Tove Jansson for a series of illustrated novels and a comic strip. Read more about them here. I first discovered the series in 2000 when I found a bunch of the books on sale during my trip to Comic-Con in San Diego after my high school graduation, although they weren't on sale at the show. They were well stocked at a tourist shop that was part of the National Park/string of excellent Mexican restaurants north of the city. Go figure. These days, Drawn & Quarterly publishes a fine series of reprints of the original comic strips, which are great to buy for any kid.
The figure is pretty fun. If you place it on a slightly inclined surface, it walks all on its own and was on sale at a booth staffed by a Russian man also selling similar Father Christmas and toy soldier models. He had the thing labeled as "a hippo" though it's obviously Moomin character Snorkmaiden. The little card that came with the figure refers to it as a troll, which is closer to the actual Moomin descriptions of the books, but it still had no copyright notice for Jansson. LAME. The company that produced it is called Mazyuk & Metelev, though I could only find one site in English that made mention of them.
Do you think these things are popular in Russia? Does anyone know if any of the Moomin books are even published there?
In any event, I'm really happy to have it adorning my bookshelf these days, as I'm now able to have the Moomin/Bruce Lee crossover adventures I've dreamed about become a reality: